Middle School vaping - how one officer is making a difference

Updated August 17, 2021
Officer Howland
Did you know that it only takes 15 minutes to smoke 1 Vape Pod, which is the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes!

Officer Ann Marie Howland of the Roseville Police Department has been working to help educate youth, parents and teachers on the dangers of youth vaping since January 2020. We’re sharing the great work she’s doing at the local school districts along with some helpful resources for you and your families.

Officer HowlandAnn Marie Howland is a School Resource Officer. She visits each of the Roseville middle schools several times a month during morning drop off, lunchtime and after school to build rapport with the students. “I want them to get used to my presence on campus,” she says. “I like to be goofy and play games with the kids or talk about their favorite shows.”

Building a relationship with the students is important. If there is a foundation of trust, students are more likely to open up about the issues they face, including vaping and bullying among others.

The main purpose for being there is to cut back on youth vaping. Her work includes classroom presentations, decoy operations, smoke shop inspections and Brief Intervention counseling for kids caught vaping on campus.

Over the past year, Officer Howland has conducted 10 Brief Interventions with students typically ranging between 11 and 13 years of age, with the youngest being eight. “How long did it take you to realize you love this,” she asks the students. The answer is always the first puff. The so called “pods” come in a variety of flavors like cotton candy and watermelon. For parents, she describes them as similar to your favorite sweet cocktail. The misconception she says is that they are safer than tobacco.

One Vape Pod is the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes and some kids smoke 3 pods a day! To make matters worse, production of the vape juice is not FDA regulated. It’s common to find ingredients such as arsenic, rat poison, rubidium (found in fireworks) and formaldehyde.

The vaping kits are also hard to spot, coming disguised in the form of key fobs, pens, highlighters, lipstick, candy sticks and juice boxes just to name a few. Devices for hiding vape kits masquerade as common household goods like monster drink cans, Lysol containers and WD40. How do the kids get a hold of these, you ask? The answer is Snapchat, Amazon, smoke shops, older kids and, believe it or not, family members.

Can you guess which one is real and which one is a vape?
Vape penVape juice boxVape lipstick

That’s why it is so important to educate kids on the dangers of vaping. In her classroom presentations, Officer Howland provides real life examples of the negative effects. “The kids say ‘that’s disgusting’ when I tell them what’s in it,” she says. Officer Howland also educates teachers on what to look for, like frequent restroom use (most vaping happens in school bathrooms), as well as parents on how to talk to their kids – and more importantly, how to listen. Below are links to a few of the resources available to parents that you may find helpful.

If you see someone vaping who is underage, contact the Roseville Police Department non-emergency line: (916) 774-5000.

It is apparent that Officer Howland truly loves her job. “It’s about changing lives,” she said. “You never know what difference you’re going to make in someone’s life.”

A huge thank you to Officer Howland for the amazing work she is doing to help the kids and families in our community!

Stanford Medicine Tobacco Prevention Toolkit

Answer: A is the vape; B is real